Thursday, June 4, 2015

Back To Civilization!

Jen and I have been back in civilization for about a month now--it's amazing how fast time goes by!  Blain and Mo Anderson brought Sailboat Bob over to the bay to take Jen and Feral home.  Thanks Blain and Mo for all the loading and unloading and carrying stuff up the big driveway!

Jen has been and will be flying her day job with Alaska Airlines when not puttering in the yard and wondering what other expensive house projects she can start while I'm out of town or distracted.

Caretaker Rick on his way to the barbershop.

Captain Rick, ready to fit into town life!

I stayed in the bay to wait for Mike and Sally Trotter and the lodge crew to bring their boats around and to assist in the transition to working mode at the lodge.  The last ten days at the lodge were very different for us as the hydro generator shorted out.  Things were just humming along normally when we got a low voltage alarm in the office.  I ran downstairs to find all the lights out and all the meters dead.  It took me about sixty seconds to run up to the hydro shed where I found smoke pouring out, the generator overspinning, and no power output at all.  I shut the water to the pelton wheel off and for the rest of our stay we had to run a gas generator to keep freezers cold and everything topped up.
It took a couple weeks, but Mike now has a new generator installed and power back to normal at the lodge.

I came back to Sitka with our neighbor Jacki to help her run 32-foot trawler back to Sitka.  (Jacki's husband Keith passed away unexpectly in late March.)  I had familiarized myself with the boat before we left and knew it had an electrical issue as well as a serious leak that I couldn't find.  But, the show must go on, so at 5 AM one beautiful, sunny, calm day, I showed up at the boat ready for the 90-nautical mile run to Sitka.  We stowed the last few items, took the canvas off the flying bridge, and singled up the dock lines.  I turned the key and and pressed the starter......we got a few rumbles out of the starter and then nothing.  We then started up the generator and turned on the battery charger and then hit the start button.......again the engine turned over slowly a few times and then nothing.  So, we let the charger run a few minutes, then hit the starter and the engine fired right up!

Off we went into a mirror calm Chatham Strait.  The sun was just coming up as we left the bay and we could see spouts from humpback whales scattered around the strait.  The engine hummed along and four hours later we entered Peril Strait.  Within a few minutes, the engine rpm's kicked up and we got an audible voltage alarm.  I wasn't too concerned because once a diesel engine is running, it doesn't need electricity to keep running.  All seemed to be pretty stable, so we just kept going, watching the engine instruments like a hawk.  For the next nine hours, we had to hit the "mute alarm" button every two minutes..   While watching the instruments, I noticed that the engine coolant temperature, which had been rock solid at 178 degrees, started cooling off.  Before long, it was down to 90 degrees.  That's much better than running hot and it was probably just a sticky thermostat, but still something to watch and worry about on a boat you don't know well.

Sergius Narrows is at the outer end of Peril Strait.  A shallow, narrow channel with roaring currents as huge volumes of water run into and out of Peril Strait and Hoonah Sound, we hit it just at maximum ebb and had 5 or 6 kts of current pulling us in the direction we wanted to go.  In the whirlpools just past the narrows, suddenly we weren't going the direction we wanted to go.  I thought the autopilot had been overpowered, so shut it off to steer manually.  That's when I discovered that we had no steering.  As the boat twirled with the whirlpools, Jacki and I ran to the stern of the boat.  The access to the rudder was covered with barrels of fuel and water which we quickly untied and moved out of the way.  Once we could see into the compartment, I could see that the hydraulic steering ram had pulled out of a rotten, waterlogged bulkhead.  The bulkhead was so soft, there was no way to screw the ram back in.  As a bonus, I could now see the source of the water leak--probably 50 gallons an hour was coming in from the rudder bearing!  I eyed some 1 X 4's that had been covering the top of the steering compartment and asked Jacki if she had a saw.  She ran to get it and brought it back with two 1 X 1's.  As it turned out, the pieces she brought held the steering ram in place perfectly across the width of the compartment.  We steered gently by hand the remaining 4 hours and tied up in Sitka in daylight!

Polar Mist's new hard dodger.

 Polar Mist, the 54-foot sailboat I have been working on the last couple of summers is in Seattle's Delta boatyard.  The winter project list included a new hydronic heating system, removing the engine and auxillary, painting the engine room, rebuilding the auxillary and replacing the main engine, adding a hard dodger, painting the decks, and seemingly thousands of smaller items.  Like most boat projects turn out, we're over budget and behind schedule.  The boat should be back in the water in early July and we'll be finishing up projects in the slip in Seattle and doing some shake-down cruises in Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands.

Polar Mist's new 4-blade feathering max prop.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Other Random Photos

More Random Photos
We see lots of waterfowl all winter, but the spring has brought much more bird activity ashore.
Ruby Crowned Kinglet
Fox Sparrow (we think)

Dark-eyed Junco

Pacific Wren

Bird Watcher

There has been a solitary sea otter just outside the bay for the last couple of years.  The good news is that the sea otters are expanding their territory and population.  The bad news is that they eat a lot of crab!

Easter Performance

Waiting for a treat after the Easter Performance!

Now--this is a treat!

Taking the lights down.

Another Birthday celebration (Happy Birthday to Me!)

Like the song says, "I get better lookin' each day!"

Rufus Hummingbird--I think he's glad the feeder is out!


One last herring.....

Just hanging out on the dock.

Belted Kingfisher (female)

Sailboat Bob Birthday Bash!

Sailboat Bob made a speed run over to the bay from Sitka in the not too distant past with a load of birthday revelers.  We had a great weekend hiking, kayaking, and hot springing in the rain!

Happy Birthday Mo!
Imported chefs preparing a breakfast feast. (Gala party hats required)

Here's Blain's plate--I guess we should have made enough for everybody!

Good thing we fed them before the crowd turned on us!

After breakfast, the paddlers headed out to the falls.

Celebrating after a successful descent!

Deck Dancers Gone Wild!  (don't worry--we were still able to use the coffee filters)

Eat your heart out, Madonna!
A good time was had by all, including our neighbors, with the Birthday Girl heading up the congo line.

Abbe's Birthday

The birthday decorations have been getting a lot of use this spring.  Jen's friend Abbe flew in from Seattle to spend some time with us while we celebrated her birthday.

Abbe flew in to our gala dock on a nice sunny day.

Wow--a birthday treat (that Abbe baked for us)!
It was a perfect, calm day for kayaking!

Kayaking at Baranof Falls

While Abbe was here, we took a skiff ride across Chatham Strait to visit our friends Dave and Anke in Murder Cove.

Dave and Anke alternate winters with us caretaking the Baranof Lodge and in the other year, they caretake at Tyee--the old cannery and whaling station site on the southern tip of Admiralty Island. 

Looking at some historical photos from the whaling station.

More history!

The final resting spot for a bald eagle.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Are Minks Trainable?

We have a couple of minks that live close to the lodge.  Although some people told us that you can't train a wild mink, we had a lot of time on our hands this winter, so thought we'd give it a shot.  The large one we named Marvin.  The other one we worry about because she has mange and it seems to be getting worse.  Her name is Marge the Mangy Mink.

Marvin down on the dock.  We were told they wouldn't fetch, but we found it depends on what you throw for them.

It works fine with crab legs.

Madge is a little slower, but she's fetching this turkey bone.

Marvin having fun fetching a turkey leg.

He'll fetch a turkey breastbone as well.

We've trained Madge to clean the Barbeque and take the old salmon skins to the compost.

Random Spring Photos

Here is a random mix of photos from the last couple months.
We've had more cloud cover this winter and it seems we haven't seen the moon as much as we usually do.  We did get up early one morning to try to see the recent lunar eclipse, but it was too low on  the horizon for us to see (we were blocked by the mountains we have to the west).  Jen did manage to get a couple nice moon shots...


This Coast Guard cutter anchored overnight in front of the lodge.
It was obvious when they started up their main engines!

Boardwalk Contemplation
We have a healthy population of sunflower stars around our dock.  A lot of starfish on the west coast (including Alaska) have an epidemic starfish wasting disease that is wiping a lot of them out, but no sign of it here in the bay yet.
They seem to be happy!

Speaking of happy--how about that spring sunshine!

Spring is here!
Harris Air taking off.


Trying to read.....

Our neighbor John aboard his sailboat, Sara.
This big squid was left behind after a stormy day with big waves in the bay.

And that made Feral very happy!

Our Rufus hummingbirds have shown up just in time for the last snow!
More Springing!
Cat levitation--is it wrong?